Instead of making the haul to Cleveland or Columbus to visit an open air market like the West Side Market or North Market, North Canton residents might one day be able to walk to one.
A group of community members are set on creating a market in North Canton that would include a cafe with local foods (usually from no farther away than 100 miles, and a lot coming from the actual market), a handful of artist studios and the actual open air market that would feature fruits, veggies and other foods.
Not only that, but urban farms would be maintained outside the market building, and that food will go back into the market to be sold.
It’s “true sustainability,” says Lilia Fuquen, a student and community market organizer. It’s leading by example.
“Everybody talks all this 'greenwash' stuff about green jobs and a sustainable economy, when we have a hard time implementing these practices,” Fuquen said. “The way I see it is, the community market embodies all of what true sustainable thinking and working actually is. It’s creating local jobs. It’s focused on organic and pesticide-free food.”
Vendors and those interested in sharing their ideas for the market are invited to join a discussion at 1 p.m. Saturday at the . (See the attached flier for more meeting info.)
Fuquen said she came up with the idea to create the North Main Community Market while talking with Jim Sewell, a family friend. Both realized many in the area are yearning for something like a community market. Although the city is rich with history, it lacks in the areas of arts and entertainment — the makings of a vibrant, interesting downtown.
“North Main Street … it’s ripe. It’s ready to be plucked and turned into something. And I think a lot of North Canton residents feel that, they see it and they know that as they drive through,” she said.
The community market is like a puzzle piece in — a community member-guided road map to bettering the city. During the three Master Plan meetings, participants said they wanted to see more of an arts presence in the city, they wanted more to do downtown, and they wanted a natural foods store.
The North Canton Rotary Club already is working toward (also part of the Master Plan).
Fuquen said they haven’t chosen a site yet for the market, but there’s no lack of available real estate in downtown North Canton. She’s eyed the Spitzer building on North Main and said the Maple Street Commerce (owners of the Hoover building) have even shown some interest in housing the market.
Other ideas Fuquen has for the market include a used bookstore, which North Canton doesn’t yet have. Plus, the outside garden would also be used as a resource for community projects and education.
Sewell said the ultimate goal of Saturday’s meeting is to create an organization of vendors and community members to help form the community market. He said it’s most important to establish the actual market aspect first, as he sees the project taking off in phases: market, cafe then artist studios.
Sewell knows the demand for a community market like this is great. People don’t want food that’s been driven or flown thousands of miles.
“The reason why that’s important: Today, with the energy crisis, we’re paying to send food 12,000 miles,” he said. “I bought garlic at grocery store and it was from China. That’s in a big boat using a lot of fuel for food that can easily be grown here.”
And there have been success stories when it comes to small towns and community markets.
Sewell pointed to Wooster, Ohio, where the market Local Roots has thrived and turned a profit in just its second year. Started by a woman who moved to Ohio from South America, Local Roots has even been spotlighted in the Washington Post for its success.
The same could happen in North Canton, Sewell said.
"What we're trying to do is give North Canton and the Stark County area someting it doesn't have. I think there really is a demand for that. People want that."
North Main Community Market, at a glance:
What: Meeting for vendors and those interested in sharing ideas
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Can't make it?: Shoot the organizers an email through their website.